Somerset sprang forward, and with the strength of the very ecstasy of terror, wrested the brick from his possession. `Heavens!' he cried, wiping his brow; and then with more care than ever mother handled her first-born withal, gingerly transported the explosive to the far end of the apartment: the plotter, his arms once more fallen to his side, dispiritedly watching him.

`It was entirely harmless,' he sighed. `They describe it as burning like tobacco.'

`In the name of fortune,' cried Somerset, `what have I done to you, or what have you done to yourself, that you should persist in this insane behaviour? If not for your own sake, then for mine, let us depart from this doomed house, where I profess I have not the heart to leave you; and then, if you will take my advice, and if your determination be sincere, you will instantly quit this city, where no further occupation can detain you.'

`Such, dear fellow, was my own design,' replied the plotter. `I have, as you observe, no further business here; and once I have packed a little bag, I shall ask you to share a frugal meal, to go with me as far as to the station, and see the last of a broken-hearted man. And yet,' he added, looking on the boxes with a lingering regret, `I should have liked to make quite certain. I cannot but suspect my underlings of some mismanagement; it may be fond, but yet I cherish that idea: it may be the weakness of a man of science, but yet,' he cried, rising into some energy, `I will never, I cannot if I try, believe that my poor dynamite has had fair usage!'

`Five minutes!' said Somerset, glancing with horror at the timepiece. `If you do not instantly buckle to your bag, I leave you.'

`A few necessaries,' returned Zero, `only a few necessaries, dear Somerset, and you behold me ready.'

He passed into the bedroom, and after an interval which seemed to draw out into eternity for his unfortunate companion, he returned, bearing in his hand an open Gladstone bag. His movements were still horribly deliberate, and his eyes lingered gloatingly on his dear boxes, as he moved to and fro about the drawing- room, gathering a few small trifles. Last of all, he lifted one of the squares of dynamite.

`Put that down!' cried Somerset. `If what you say be true, you have no call to load yourself with that ungodly contraband.'

`Merely a curiosity, dear boy,' he said persuasively, and slipped the brick into his bag; `merely a memento of the past - ah, happy past, bright past! You will not take a touch of spirits? no? I find you very abstemious. Well,' he added, `if you have really no curiosity to await the event - '

`I!' cried Somerset. `My blood boils to get away.'

`Well, then,' said Zero, `I am ready; I would I could say, willing; but thus to leave the scene of my sublime endeavours - '

Without further parley, Somerset seized him by the arm, and dragged him downstairs; the hall-door shut with a clang on the deserted mansion; and still towing his laggardly companion, the young man sped across the square in the Oxford Street direction. They had not yet passed the corner of the garden, when they were arrested by a dull thud of an extraordinary amplitude of sound, accompanied and followed by a shattering fracas. Somerset turned in time to see the mansion rend in twain, vomit forth flames and smoke, and instantly collapse into its cellars. At the same moment, he was thrown violently to the ground. His first glance was towards Zero. The plotter had but reeled against the garden rail; he stood there, the Gladstone bag clasped tight upon his heart, his whole face radiant with relief and gratitude; and the young man heard him murmur to himself: `Nunc dimittis, nunc dimittis!'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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